Friday, February 12, 2016

Friends: "The One With The Candy Hearts"

Premiered February 9, 1995

Monica: Roger wants to take her out tomorrow night.
Rachel: No! Phoebes! Don't you remember why you dumped the guy?
Phoebe: 'Cause he was creepy, and mean, and a little frightening... alright, still, it's nice to have a date on Valentine's Day!
Monica: But Phoebe, you can go out with a creepy guy any night of the year. I know I do.

In this episode from the first season of the series,  it's nearly Valentine's day.

Ross' ex-wife Carol has recently left him for another woman and his crush on Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) is unrequited.  At Central Perk, he spots Kristen (Heather Medway), a woman he likes who lives in his building.  Joey and Chandler tell him to ask her out, thinking he'll strike out.  to everyone's surprise, Kristen agrees to go out with Ross (David Schwimmer) on Valentine's Day.

Joey (Matt LeBlanc) has a Valentine's date set up...but his date Lorraine (Nancy Valen) says he needs to bring a friend for her friend.  So Chandler (Matthew Perry) will go to dinner with Lorraine's friend.  He's reluctant and says the friend sounds like a "pathetic mess."

Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Monica (Courtney Cox)  and Rachel who do not have Valentine dates, are discussing their recent relationship struggles.  Rachel wonders why good women like them always end up dating jerks.  Phoebe suggests a cleansing ritual to help them "break the bad boyfriend cycle."  They decide to make a bonfire out of gifts, love letters and other reminders of ex-boyfriends.

When they meet up later at a restaurant, Lorraine is excited to see Joey.

On the other hand, Chandler is shocked to learn he's been matched up with Janice (Maggie Wheeler), who he recently dumped (on New Year's Eve).

Oh. My. God!
Lorraine and Joey are hitting it off nicely.  At the same table,  Chandler and Janice are having a terrible time.

Things get worse when Joey and Lorraine decide to leave early.  Joey (stupidly) leaves them his credit card.  They order two bottles of expensive champagne...and wake up next to each other.

Now Chandler has a new problem: how can he dump Janice on Valentine's Day?

Ross and Kristen have dinner at a Japanese steakhouse.

Shortly into their date, Ross' ex-wife Carol shows up with her girlfriend Susan (Jessica Hecht).

Their presence distracts Ross and threatens to ruin his evening with Kristen.

Meanwhile, back at the boyfriend bonfire, things get a little bit out of hand...

...when Rachel dumps a bottle of (highly flammable!) grappa on the bonfire!

Will Chandler go through with his plans to dump Janice on Valentine's Day?  Can Ross salvage his evening with Kristen with his ex-wife sitting in front of him?  Will Monica, Rachel and Phoebe live to see February 15th?

J.A. Morris says:

I was never a regular viewer of Friends, but I've watched it occasionally over the years.  "The One With The Candy Hearts" is okay.   As usual, Phoebe and Chandler get the best lines of the episode.  I know a lot of people find Janice annoying, but I always found her amusing.  Maggie Wheeler gave her all every time she played the character.

When he sees his ex & her girlfriend, Ross tries to hide behind a menu.
Ross was never my favorite character on the show.  But he's sympathetic when he runs into Carol on Valentine's Day, even if he goes a bit too far.  The "cleansing ritual" scenes are all pretty funny.

I guess my biggest problem with "The One With The Candy Hearts" is that Chandler and Joey don't seem much better than the "jerks" who Phoebe, Rachel and Monica are cleansing from their lives.  Chandler talks about Janice like she's terrible, then spends the night with her, then (20 year old SPOILER ALERT) dumps her on Valentine's Day.  I guess we're supposed to be okay with it because Janice is annoying? 

If you were a Friends fan in the 90s, "The One With The Candy Hearts" will provide some nice, nostalgic Valentine's Day laughs.  But it's not exactly "essential" holiday viewing.

J.A. Morris' rating:

2 and a half Valentine Hearts.

RigbyMel says:

Unlike J.A. Morris, I was a pretty regular viewer of Friends, especially during the first couple of seasons.   Let us just say that it conjures warm memories of college for me up to a point.    (Wow!  The 1990s nostalgia is strong with this one!)

That being said, it's been a long while since I've watched many episodes of the series and I am older and (hopefully) a bit less naive nowadays.   So Ross -- who I thought was kind of sweet back in the day  (although I always preferred Chandler) -- now strikes me as being extremely whiny and irritating in the worst Nice Guy (tm) sort of way.  His interaction with Carol at the hibachi restaurant is supposed to endear him to us (if not to his date!),  but their little heart to heart about dating at the end of the episode just feels a bit hollow and pat to me.

Yeah, Ross, your date left ages ago ...  because you were paying more attention to your ex than to her.
I definitely remember relating rather strongly to Phoebe, Monica and Rachel's attempt to get rid of bad boyfriend vibes when this episode first aired.  And I love Phoebe's sort of hippie/Wicca ideas about how to accomplish this.   Their cleansing ritual attempt remains pretty funny after all these years.  
A classic "boyfriend bonfire"
I also remember feeling kind of bad for Janice.  Sure,  she is kind of annoying, but she can't help the way she speaks and Chandler is kind of mean with the whole on-again-off-again way he treats her in general.

"The One With the Candy Hearts" is a fun, albeit slight episode of the series.   If you want to get your mid-90s nostalgia on, it's worth revisiting, but isn't particularly a classic holiday episode.

RigbyMel's rating:

2 and a half Valentine hearts

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